Sean Dunne jailing sought in High Court application

Bankruptcy official seeks move over defiance of order to €7,000 a month to creditors

An application for the jailing of the bankrupt property developer Sean Dunne has come before the High Court.

The official who is looking after the bankrupt’s estate is seeking to have him jailed for civil contempt for defying a bankruptcy order that he pay €7,000 a month towards his creditors.

Chris Lehane, the official assignee, wants the former multimillionaire jailed until he purges his failure to comply with an order made in 2018 that he make the monthly payment towards the assets available to his creditors.


When the matter came before Ms Justice Teresa Pilkington in the High Court on Monday morning, she accepted an application from Eamonn Dornan BL that he, and the solicitors firm, OBH Partners, come off record, or cease acting for Mr Dunne. Before granting the application, the law firm undertook to supply Mr Lehane's office with Mr Dunne's home address and the email address he is currently using.


Ms Justice Pilkington told Eddie Farrelly SC, for Mr Lehane, that she was putting the attachment and committal application back to March 23rd, for mention, to see if Mr Dunne would be represented on that date, or would be representing himself, or what attitude he would adopt. She did not want to proceed with the matter today because of the "draconian nature" of what was being sought.

Mr Farrelly said the seeking of Mr Dunne's attachment and committal had first been threatened in July, 2019. He said it was understood Mr Dunne would be contesting the order, and most likely pleading inability to pay.

Mr Dunne was first made a bankrupt in this jurisdiction in 2013 and in 2018 his bankruptcy period was extended to 2028.

He is engaged in bankruptcy proceedings both here and in the United States, with a jury in the latter jurisdiction having found last year that he had fraudulently handed over millions of euros in assets to his former wife, Gayle Killilea, to shield them from creditors. Ms Killilea was ordered to surrender €18.1 million.

In October 2018 he was ordered by the Irish courts to pay €7,000 a month to the Official Assignee in order to increase the assets available to his creditors.

“The bankrupt has in fact made no payments whatsoever under that order and is in breach thereof in the sum of €112,000,” Mr Lehane said in an affidavit accompanying the attachment and committal application.


“I do not believe it to be the case that he cannot make the payments,” the official said. He said Mr Dunne continues to not cooperate with his office.

Mr Dunne, he said, has told him that he no longer works for his former employer, Mountbrook, USA. “Therefore, as far as I am aware, he lives on €200 per month.” Mr Lehane said the position set out by Mr Dunne was “simply not credible”.

He noted that last year Mr Dunne had travelled between Ireland, England and the US, something that he believed could not be done by someone earning €200 a month. He also noted that Mr Dunne was using the services of lawyers here and in the US.

“The bankrupt clearly has undisclosed sources of income that he will not use to satisfy the bankruptcy payment order.”

He also noted that Mr Dunne had access to a pension fund and said that his enquiries revealed that the bankrupt had sought to move the pension scheme to the UK.

In February, a legal claim over a valuable house on Shrewsbury Road, Dublin, was lifted by Mr Lehane as part of the settlement of proceedings involving Mr Dunne.

The house, Walford, had been bought by him for €58 million in 2005, and was sold in 2016 by a company based in Cyprus, Yesreb, to the trustee of a trust that was set up for the benefit of the children of financier Dermot Desmond. The price paid was €14.25 million.

In court filings in the US earlier this month, a lawyer acting for Mr Dunne said the property developer intended to seek damages from his son, John Dunne, for his handing over of the proceeds of the Walford sale to Sean Dunne's US bankruptcy trustee.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent